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Sheltered housing consultation – some clarity

The community spirit and special atmosphere of our sheltered housing schemes in Reading is something that is valued by all of us: a safe and comfortable environment where residents live independently and there is always someone to call on.

There is no question of this changing under the proposals we are currently consulting on.

However I understand the worries that proposed changes to such a valued service can cause residents, which is why we have arranged over 120 consultation meetings and we will be listening to and acting on concerns raised. No decisions have yet been taken and I’d encourage residents and friends and family to respond to the proposals in the consultation which runs until 16th December.

What is being proposed is to modernise the service and ensure that residents get a consistent and more focused service. For example, a proposal to recruit a new staff member who would help residents organise social activities and events. This reflects the fact that today people in sheltered housing are more active.

In particular I would like to reassure readers that the proposal to allow a few residents under the age of 60 to move into sheltered accommodation is something that would be restricted to residents who would benefit from the special ethos of shelteredhousing and wouldn’t upset the balance of the community there – and there will be safeguards in place to ensure this.

Sheltered housing does not currently, and never has, had staff onsite 24 hours a day and there haven’t been live-in or overnight wardens since 1993. For residents who require a 24 hour onsite presence we do offer that option in other accommodation and we are currently building two new schemes which offer this ‘extra care’ – creating 100 new, high quality, flats for rent.

It is also very important to note that this review, set up by the current Libdem leader when she was the lead councillor, does not have a specific savings target set against it – any savings will be as a result of the consultation but are not driving it. It is unfortunate that the Liberal Democrats are now spreading concern and worry rather than making constructive comments about such a sensitive issue.

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